‘Morgan is a criminal at large, why haven’t the police caught him?’

Kirkham Prison

Kirkham Prison

An arsonist who tried to dig his way out of jail was transferred to Kirkham open prison - and promptly went missing.

And despite fugitive Jordan Morgan absconding last June, his disappearance remained a secret until The Gazette challenged the Ministry of Justice and police.

Jordan Morgan

Jordan Morgan

Mandy Leigh, whose 25 rescue animals died when Morgan torching Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary in 2011, said: “Why have they not caught him? The police should catch him.

“He is a criminal at large and somebody must be hiding him.”

Morgan, 22, formerly of Bloomfield Road, South Shore, was given an indefinite jail sentence after he and co-conspirator Karl Heaton, then 23, of Smith Lane, St Annes, went on a three-hour drunken rampage around the Fylde.

As well as the starting the blaze at Easterleigh, which saw hens, cats, and a rabbit perish, the pair admitted setting fire to the Fylde Scout headquarters on Heyhouse Lane, a Volkswagen van on Clarendon Road, and a garage on Church Road in St Annes.

It is disturbing that someone who caused suffering has absconded

Morgan was also later convicted of trying to dig his way to freedom at Preston Prison after plotting a Colditz-style escape bid.

Alongside jailmate David Crossfield, from Blackpool, Morgan dug a hole through a chimney breast to an enclosed area not far from the prison’s outer walls.

Morgan was blamed for the ‘fanciful’ plot and given a two- month prison sentence to run concurrent to his sentence for arson.

He was moved to HMP Kirkham after Court of Appeal judges reduced the amount of time Morgan needed to serve before applying for freedom from four years and four months behind bars to three.

Alan Brogan

Alan Brogan

A parole board recommended the transfer from a medium security prison to Kirkham, and re-categorised Morgan as a category D prisoner, meaning he was ‘reasonably trusted not to escape’, it is understood.

But a Prison Service spokesman confirmed Morgan was ‘found to be missing’ on 19 June last year.

A spokesman said: “As with all cases where a prisoner absconds, police were immediately notified. He is still at large.

“Absconds from open prisons have fallen to a record low, down 75 per cent on a decade ago, but we are not complacent and take each one extremely seriously.”

Paul Steadman

Paul Steadman

The service refused to say when he was moved to Kirkham because it ‘did not comment on individual cases’.

The Gazette has asked for a date under Freedom of Information laws.

Labour MP for Blackpool South, Gordon Marsden said: “It’s quite disturbing that someone who caused suffering and inflicted cruelty on the animals and damage at Easterleigh has absconded.

“it’s important, particularly if he may still be in the Blackpool area, for the police to look at this matter and publicise the fact.

“Someone as unstable as Morgan was could do something like this again. He has behaved appallingly in the past and could still be unstable.”

During the arson trial, Heaton described Morgan as a ‘nutcase’ and said he was ‘crazy and spontaneous’.

A spokeswoman for Lancashire Police said: “The police and other agencies follow numerous lines of enquiry to try and trace persons who abscond from lawful custody to return them to prison.

“A media appeal is always an option open to the police and has to be considered in terms of being proportionate and necessary by investigating officers.

“A great deal of work has already been done following Morgan’s escape from HMP Kirkham. Enquiries continue to try and establish his whereabouts, both in Lancashire and elsewhere in the country where he has connections.

“I would like to thank the press for highlighting this matter and would appeal to any of The Gazette’s readers who have any knowledge as to the whereabouts of Jordan Morgan to either contact Lancashire Police quoting log reference LC-20150619-1140 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.”

County councillor for Kirkham, Liz Oades, said the blame for Morgan’s escape lies with the parole board who recommended his move to Kirkham, and reassured residents in the town they were not at risk.

She said: “We do from time to time have escapes but usually we have low-level prisoners and their crimes are really low level.

“They do try and put people close to home for obvious reasons, like visiting, but if there is fault here it’s probably the parole board’s.

“They perhaps have wrongly assessed Morgan. Really they should have looked more carefully at this. If they do this regularly it’s a worry.”

She continued: “Kirkham prison is close to the town centre so we believe there should be low category prisoners in there so the risk is minimised to the community.

“We are told that’s the case but we know in the past five or ten years there have been murderers at the end of their sentences

“We have been given assurances they would have the most to lose if they try to escape. We are also told when they escape they usually leave the area as quickly as they can.

“From that point of view, our residents are not as at risk as they could be.”

Earlier this week, Crimestoppers offered a £2,000 reward for the capture of violent armed robber Alan Brogan, who absconded from Kirkham in October.

Brogan, 30, was jailed in 2009 alongside an accomplice after they stormed into houses in Preston armed with axes and knives, attacking and assaulting the occupants.

He was sentenced for wounding with intent, aggravated burglary, robbery, theft and possession of a prohibited weapon.

He was given a further eight year sentence in 2010 – to run alongside his original sentence – for the unlawful possession of a gun and ammunition.

The public has been warned not to approach Brogan, who has links to Blackpool, but report any sightings to police.

The disappearance was the latest at Kirkham, which has seen several high profile escapes in the past and houses around 560 male prisoners.

They include Paul Steadman, then 45, who viciously beat and strangled pensioner Theresa Cain after being allowed out on day release in 2014.

The violent thug left her lying in a pool of blood when she refused to give him money for drugs.

Sentencing Steadman, of HMP Preston, to life with a minimum term of 10 years before he is eligible for parole, Judge Baker said he had been “inappropriately trusted by whoever made the decision you could be released from prison for a day.”

The same year, firearms trader Philip Stephenson and burglar Gareth Robinson fled Kirkham together after climbing into a silver Volkswagen Golf and heading towards Stockport.

They were both caught.

Last year, Connor Smith-MacPhee, from Salford, escaped wearing just his underpants before taking a man hostage and hiding in a chicken shed. He was later found hiding in an attic in Worsley, Salford.

A spokesman for the Parole Board said the service does not comment on individual cases.

But they said they can only make recommendations, with the final decision resting with the Ministry of Justice.

The risk to the public is one of the factors taken into account by the parole board.